Japan Atlas: Nature 
Shimanto River

Location: Kochi Prefecture 

 Length: 196 km   (122 mi) 

 Catchment area: 2,270 sq km (876 sq mi) 


Natural and Crystal-clear Waters Still Remain   

The Shimanto River is the longest river in Shikoku. It has about 300 tributaries and flows down about 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) from the south flank of Mt. Irazu (1,336 meters (4,383 feet) high) to the Pacific Ocean at the Tosa Bay. Since the riverbed is tilted very slight, the Shimanto River is the only major river in Japan that has not been dammed anywhere. Therefore, the river flows as naturally as it has always done. With less industrial development in the adjacent area, and the efforts of people to keep the river clean, means that the waters remain crystal-clear right down to the ocean. The river is thus sometimes called the "last clear stream" in Japan.  

From the headwaters to its mouth, the Shimanto River has 94 species of wild fish which is the most in all rivers in Japan. Using traditional methods rarely seen elsewhere, professional fishermen make their living by catching several product, such as sweetfish, eel, crab, and "aonori" (green seaweed). On summer evenings one of the captivating sights of the Shimanto River is a group of fishermen holding flaming torches on board boats as they drive sweetfish into the fishing nets. Because of purify of water, religious ceremonies recalling the spirits of the ancestors and purifying one's body and soul are performed. The intimate relationship between the local people and the river still remains along the Shimanto River in ways no longer seen elsewhere.  

Photos: (Top) The peaceful flow of Shimanto River; (bottom) catching ayu by a traditional method. (Kochi Prefecture)  

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